• Winona, Missouri


Tell me it isn’t true! In the Oct. 20 article “Tepco ignored higher probability of tsunami,” it was reported that a nuclear energy safety expert warned Tepco in 2006 that there was a 10 percent chance that its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant would be hit by a massively destructive tsunami sometime in the next 50 years. Tepco management chose to ignore this expert’s opinion, claiming that it didn’t want to alarm the local Fukushima community!

What rubbish. Added safety measures would have cost more money, money that could be invested more profitably in the construction of new nuclear power plants. The senior managers at Tepco’s nuclear village probably just shrugged indifferently when they heard the expert’s warning and thought “Hey, what are the odds?! Whadda ya goin’ do, don’t worry about it!”

Every business venture is a gamble. And hey, there was ONLY a 10 percent chance of a disastrous tsunami hitting the Fukushima No. 1 plant within a 50-year timespan. Apparently such odds didn’t alarm the senior Tepco staff. They gambled and lost.

Now the Japanese public must pay Tepco’s “gambling debts.” I wish I could vacation in Las Vegas, drop a bundle on the roulette tables and not worry about losing a small fortune because at the end of the day John Q. Public would bail me out if I lost.

That’s what Wall Street did in 2008. But it was only money. Tepco was gambling with people’s lives, not to mention the natural environment of Tohoku and Kanto.

If senior Tepco managers had been living right next door to the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, they would have taken the 2006 tsunami warning far more seriously. In the future, it should be a legal mandate that all engineers and senior Tepco managers live next door to their “Frankenstein” nuclear power plants. I’m sure the “Probability Safety Assessment method” would be foremost in everyone’s mind under such new living arrangements. At present, however, the PSA method is just a fancy way of saying “let’s take a chance”.

Was Tepco’s gamble worth the risk? Many Japanese citizens would say no.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

robert mckinney

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.